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Cigar Review: Nestor Miranda Collection One Life Edition Danno Habano

29 Jun 2015

One Life DannoThis is one enjoyable cigar. The kind you light up, sit back, and savor. The Danno Habano is one of three 2015 limited editions commemorating Nestor Miranda’s late son, Daniel, that are hitting store shelves.

Each of Miami Cigar & Co.’s Danno cigars has been special since they debuted in 2009. This is certainly among the best I have had. I’d rate the strength on the upper end of medium, with deep, rich flavors that shift several times along the 7-inch, 56-ring gauge frame.

The Habano wrapper was grown in Nicaragua and is nearly flawless, with a small pigtail cap at the head. The filler comes from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. All three of this year’s Danno editions use a Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 binder. MSRP is $12.

The other two Dannos feature variations on the filler blend and sport different wrappers, one an Ecuadorian Connecticut and the other a Broadleaf Maduro. They’re rolled at Pepin Garcia’s My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua.

With only 1,000 boxes of each of the three blends produced, these will likely be difficult to find. In fact, Nestor Miranda had a six-shop East Coast tour in June to introduce the cigars and that undoubtedly put a dent in the inventory.

I smoked two for this review, both provided by Miami Cigar. The Danno Habano kicks off with pepper and cedar, joined by a sweetness that lingers into the second third. There, a toasty flavor comes on, with the pepper and cedar receding. In the final third, I picked up graham cracker as the pepper came back, smoothed out by tobacco sweetness.

The flavors are balanced, and the finish is silky. There’s no doubt concentration will pay off in what you experience with this complex cigar.

Construction generally was good, though the second one I smoked developed a small tunnel about halfway down that took a few minutes to run through and necessitated several relights. The white ash was incredibly tight, holding on both for nearly half the smoke before I tapped off.

I give the Danno Habano a high rating of four and a half stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Exactus Puro Ambar Legacy Gran Robusto

18 Jun 2015

This cigar attracts attention. The white and copper colors in its two bands—one of them extra large—stand out against the dark wrapper.

puro-ambar-exactusAfter lighting up, the first impression might be a little off. The Legacy begins a bit unpolished, presenting a little back-of-the-throat sharpness. Fortunately, that doesn’t last long, quickly replaced by much more pleasant flavors of pepper and coffee.

One of two recent offerings from Tabaclera El Artista, the Legacy is available in two vitolas. The Gran Robusto I smoked is a 5.25-inch stick with a ring gauge of 54. The other size is a 6.5-inch Gran Toro with a ring gauge of 56. Prices are extremely reasonable, with MSRPs just $4.50 and $5.50, respectively, according to the company.

The Dominican company started in the 1950s and uses its own tobacco. The filler in the Legacy is Dominican Criollo ’98 and 1900, an El Arista exclusive. The wrapper is also the 1900, while the binder is described as “Dominican wine-fermented Criollo ’98.”

Three samples were supplied by El Artista, and they’ve been sitting in my humidor for a few months. I was most impressed with the higher-priced sibling, giving the Exactus Puro Ambar a stellar rating in a review earlier this year.

The Legacy, while enjoyable, wasn’t up to that level. As you’d expect, the Legacy was not a complex cigar. Medium in strength, the dominant flavors remained fairly consistent throughout.

Performance was something of a problem. One of the three I smoked developed a tunnel and didn’t smoke right for about a third of the length, while another required numerous relights.

I’d recommend giving the Legacy a try. El Arista appears to be adding additional retailers so you should check its website to see if there’s one near you. I rate this cigar a respectable three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Ortega Wild Bunch Da Byrdman

13 Jun 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

This was the next-to-last issue in Eddie Ortega’s 2013 monthly Wild Bunch series. With its sandpapery rough, thick Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper and perfume-scented pre-light aroma, Da Byrdman (6 x 54) makes a strong opening statement. And the cigar lives up to the promise. After aging nearly a year in my humidor, it’s a bit smoother with the Nicaraguan filler melding well with the wrapper, creating a medium-strength smoke. These can still be found here and there for about $9. Pick one up when you can.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXI)

9 Jun 2015

In this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor, we look at a mind-boggling sale, ponder the annual cigar figures, and examine a pleasant trend.


Amazing Cigar Sale

I’m not sure why my eyes rested on the two-page spread for Fuente cigars in a recent catalogue from one of the big online sellers. But I gave it a glance and was surprised to see the Opus X Lost City listed among those for sale at reduced prices. (It also described them as “mild,” which was another shock.) Since the type is tiny, my eyes are not what they once were, and the line running through the MSRP made it difficult to discern, I reached for a magnifying glass to be certain I was seeing what I thought I was. Sure enough, the Lost City vitolas are marked down. Want to buy a box of 10 Toros? Why, you’ll pay just $298.99 instead of the MSRP of $299. Markdowns are identical throughout the line. As they say, act quickly. At these prices, they won’t last long!

Adding Without Increasing

Is anyone else puzzled by the fact that while a new cigar seemed to be released about every 30 minutes last year, the total number of cigars imported actually fell? Overall imports of premium cigars were down a shade over 1 percent, a negligible decline at a total of about 310 million sticks. For the first time in several years, Nicaragua’s production fell from the previous year, and the Dominican Republic’s total was down a bit as well. How’d that happen? Perhaps all those new lines, limited editions, specials, and extensions are boosting some individual manufacturers, especially boutique ones, but they don’t seem to have had an influence on the market overall.

Ten Is a Good Number

Lately, it seems more and more cigar manufacturers are packaging their sticks in 10-count boxes rather than the more traditional 20 or 24. I find the trend a good one. Shops frequently mark down box prices over the same number of singles, so there’s the likelihood of saving some money. But more important, to me at least, is that ten is a more manageable number. Unless you smoke a lot of cigars or have only a few favorites, it can take a long time to get through a box of 20 or more. With a few exceptions, I usually have a handful left to age for years until I work my way back to them.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Tatuaje Fausto Avion 13 Reserva

30 May 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Released in 2013, this limited extension of Tatuaje’s Fausto line can still be found here and there. If you spot one, light up. It’s a very good cigar. With a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler, the pressed figurado opens with strong pepper and a lot of smoke. The blend is excellently balanced, with the pepper never overpowering as other flavors shift in and out along the 6.875-inch frame. Strength is upper medium, satisfaction full. A worthy purchase at $11.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Tip: Don’t Get Slammed on the New-Release Treadmill

18 May 2015

Cigar Shop

One of the great things about cigars is the incredible choice available. Unfortunately, it’s one of the not-so-great things as well.

Every day seems to bring news of a new release, a limited edition, a store special—or, more likely, several of each. One email I received recently touted five new limited cigars. As we approach the annual summer trade show, the stream of new announcements will almost certainly become a flood.

A dedicated cigar lover could go crazy, and broke, trying to keep up.

I suggest you don’t. Go crazy or broke, that is.

Now, I’m not recommending you forgo new cigars. Far from it. I’m just advocating a little thought and preparation to maximize the enjoyment potential of the purchases you do make.

First, remember that selling cigars is not like selling most other consumables. The premium cigar market is small and barely growing, if at all. A large percentage of cigar smokers have only a handful of sticks a week and rarely venture beyond a few brands.

Two companies—Altadis and General—dominate the market; add in a few other big players like Padrón, Fuente, and Rocky Patel, and you see why smaller manufacturers face a tough battle. They’re fighting for a thin slice of a not-so-big pie.

For many of those small manufacturers, social media has had a huge impact. Even though the cigar digerati is a relatively small subset of the market, it’s a vocal and influential component. Generating buzz and producing the next hot stick can make the difference between being a success and an also-ran. All of which leads to more releases, more limited editions, more store exclusives, and on and on.

Here are three thoughts to help you evaluate your purchases:

1) Pay attention to the manufacturers you really like. As any regular reader knows, I am a big fan of Aging Room cigars. Their blends just about always appeal to my taste. I’ve even gone so far as to violate a basic rule of cigar purchases by buying a box of a new offering before I’d tried one. Other favorites, like Fuente and My Father, also always get a close look from me.

2) Pay attention to tobaccos. Think about those you like and those you don’t. This can be tricky, I’ll be the first to admit. For example, I generally dislike San Andrés. But there are some using it, like E.P. Carrillo’s La Historia, that I think are terrific. Still, given the choice between a new smoke featuring that Mexican leaf and one that doesn’t, I’ll usually pick the cigar without it. Similarly, recognizing tobaccos you usually enjoy can be a deciding factor.

3) Look at the manufacturer’s output. Some companies put out so many new cigars, it is difficult to believe they all can be special. On the other hand, when someone like Padrón puts a new smoke on the market, it is worthy of special notice.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Quick Smoke: Avo 2nd Movement

17 May 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Avo’s 2nd Movement is an intriguing combination of some typical Davidoff elements such as a mushroom and grassy flavors with a shade of spice and coffee. The Ecuadorian wrapper is dark and virtually perfect. At 6.25 inches long with a ring gauge of 47, the $11 price tag seems reasonable for the 2014 limited release (1,500 boxes of 20). It’s a fine smoke, though I wouldn’t call it a standout like my favorite Avos. Nonetheless, if you’re an Avo fan, it’s well worth picking up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A